OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Alex M. Saragoza

Portrait of Alex M. Saragoza

Born in Madera, California, Alex M. Saragoza spent much of his youth laboring side-by-side with his Mexican immigrant, farm-working parents. He has published widely on the interface between Mexico and the United States, including work on Mexican immigration. Most recently, he is a coeditor of Mexico Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic, Volume 1 (2010) and the forthcoming book, "Recent Chicano Historiography: Advances, Shortcomings, and Challenges." He is currently a professor emeritus of history in the ethnic studies department at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also an affiliate faculty in the American studies program. At the university he has also served as the chair of the Center for Latin American Studies and of the ethnic studies department, and as the faculty coordinator of the Chicano/Latino studies program. In 2012 he was a visiting professor at the University of Paris III (Sorbonne nouvelle), and he has lectured at various universities in the United States and Europe. Most recently, he received the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award from the his university's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This lecture examines the history of Mexicans in the U.S. in light of the conditions in Mexico that have induced migration to the U.S. since the turn of the 20th century. In this regard, the lecture provides the specific Mexican policies that contributed to the sources of migration northward as well as the regional origins of immigrants and their significance. In addition, the lecture takes into account the presence of Mexican popular culture and its development in the U.S., given the presence of Mexican film, recordings, and Spanish-language radio north of the border.
This lecture interrogates the interactions between two dimensions to the current debate over Mexican immigrants in the U.S.: first, the intensification of the bipartisan divide since the 1980s; and second, the relationship between economic conditions in the U.S. and the use Mexican immigrant labor (documented and undocumented).
Based on a forthcoming article to be published by Routledge, this lecture analyzes recent trends in Latino history, especially that related to the Mexican origin population, and their strengths and shortcomings. The lecture takes into account regional variations in the writing of Latino history, such as the difference between California-based works as opposed to those that focus on Texas. The lecture gives particular attention to the use of "dog whistle" politics against Latinos. In sum, the lecture raises important questions regarding the notion of Latino/Latinx history.